Shirley Chisholm at MIT, 1984

Shirley Chisholm
Courtesy MIT Museum

Shirley Chisholm (second from left) with Professor Noam Chomsky (left) and MIT President Paul Gray (far right) at Commencement, June 1984.

Text adapted from "MIT Names Shirley Chisholm as Commencement Speaker," The Harvard Crimson, 10 February 1984

Former U.S. Representative Shirley Chisholm addressed graduating students at MIT's commencement on Monday, June 4, 1984, marking only the third time an outside speaker had given the ceremony's Leynote speech.

Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, was known as a strong advocate of minority and women's rights during her seven terms in Congress. In 1972, she became the first Black woman to mount a bid for the presidency.

Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn College and received a master of arts degree from Columbia University. In 1964, she was first elected to the New York State Assembly, where she served until 1968, when she was elected to Congress. Chisholm retired from Congress in 1982 and was appointed a political science professor at Mount Holyoke College.

Timeline: 1980s
Department: Administration
Career: Government & Law
Object: Photograph
Collection: Activism, Commencement, Integration and Differentiation 1969-1994, Keynotes, MIT Presidents, Women